Please Stop Flying Your Drone Anywhere Near A Commercial Jet

Image courtesy of Patrick

Recreational drones have grown in popularity in the last few years, and there are officially more registered drones than aircraft with pilots. Here’s the problem, though: even a tiny drone can cause serious problems if it crosses the path of a jet. While a plane-drone accident hasn’t happened yet, there have been some close calls, and no one wants to find out what would happen.

Incidents included a hobbyist drone 1,000 feet above a JetBlue plane landing in Florida, and one flying across the path of multiple planes at the airport in Newark, NJ. That incident got unmanned aerial vehicles banned from sale at the airport in Newark, while it’s kind of stunning that a store at an airport was selling drones in the first place.

Pilots’ groups don’t want to fearmonger and discourage people from playing with drones, but they also really don’t want to fly into one of these things. They believe that education will be important in keeping drones and planes far from each other.

“Your imagination can run wild with the problems of hitting hard metal objects at 200 mph,” the president of the Air Line Pilots Association union told Bloomberg News.

Regulators haven’t researched flinging small aircraft into jet engines as they have with birds (specifically, they throw already-dead chickens into test engines to simulate bird strikes.) They have been able to run simulations, though, which are not very promising. Here’s an especially colorful one:

Modern planes are designed to operate with only one engine, but the question is whether a hard aircraft caught in an engine would spin out and cause damage to other parts of the plane.

Drones Are the New Threat to Airline Safety [Bloomberg]

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